SMI
Strengthening Mathematics Instruction

Opportunities for ESU 13 teachers

Strengthening Mathematics Instruction in the Nebraska Panhandle is a series of professional development programs for teachers of grades K-6 designed to strengthen knowledge of mathematics curriculum and the pedagogical knowledge needed to offer challenging but accessible mathematics courses. Thanks to the support of the U.S. Department of Education’s Improving Teacher Quality grants, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is partnering with ESU 13 and Scottsbluff Public Schools to bring these opportunities to teachers in the ESU 13 service area.

Two programs have been made available, one for K-3 primary teachers and one for intermediate teachers of grades 4-6:

  • Primary - This program, Strengthening Mathematics Instruction for Teachers of Primary Grades (SMI-Primary) in the Nebraska Panhandle, is a professional development program for teachers of primary grades designed to strengthen knowledge of the mathematics and mathematics pedagogy needed to provide the best possible instruction for students. The SMI-Primary program brings courses from UNL's renowned Primarily Math program to teachers of grades K-3 in ESU 13. Primarily Math is a program that has been proven to make a difference in the effectiveness of teachers and in the achievement of the students they teach.
    • Now taking applications for Summer 2016: The SMI-Primary program will bring the first course from the Primarily Math program to teachers in ESU 13 in June, 2016. Applications are now being accepted for participation in a week-long workshop convening June 13-17. Learn More
    • In Summer 2015, the SMI-Primary program brought two courses from the Primarily Math program to teachers in the Nebraska Panhandle. Learn More
  • Upper Elementary/Intermediate - This is a professional development program for teachers of grades 4-6 designed to strengthen knowledge of mathematics curriculum and the pedagogical knowledge needed to offer challenging but accessible mathematics courses. Two versions of this program were offered to ESU 13 teachers beginning in Summer 2014 through Spring 2015. The first version is composed of two weeklong in-person workshops followed by four daylong sessions and online tasks during the 2014-15 academic year. To make this program available to as many teachers in ESU 13 as possible, the second version of the SMI program offered the first workshop online in Spring 2015. Learn More

Program Objectives

The SMI's program objectives are to develop:

  • A deep understanding of number and operation and the number system in elementary mathematics curriculum,
  • The "habits of mind of a mathematical thinker,"
  • Skills in employing formative assessments,
  • A well-developed appreciation of the intuitive mathematical understandings that children bring to school,
  • An understanding of the role of cognitive demand in an elementary setting, and
  • Pedagogical tools (such as "math talk" or "talk moves") to increase student engagement.

Additionally, this professional development experience will encourage networking among teachers serviced by ESU 13 to support one another in the practice of teaching.

Meet the SMI Instructors and Leadership Team

  • Shelby Aaberg, Mathematics Department Chair at Scottsbluff High School, is a NebraskaNOYCE Master Teaching Fellow. the 2015 Nebraska Teacher of the Year, and a 2011 state finalist and 2013 winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math & Science Teaching.
  • Jessie Anderson, a first grade teacher for Hay Springs Public Schools, earned the K-3 Math Specialist Certificate through UNL's Primarily Math program and her MA degree from UNL in 2014
  • Julia Baucum, Mathematics Content Specialist for Scottsbluff Public Schools, 2014 SMI-Intermediate participant
  • Cindy Beaman, a Noyce Master Teaching Fellow and longtime elementary math coach for Grand Island Public Schools, who earned the K-3 Math Specialist Certificate through UNL's Primarily Math program and her MA degree from Doane College in 1997
  • Kacy Heiser, of Gordon-Rushville Public Schools, teaches Math 1, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 2 and College Algebra at the high school. Heiser is a 2008 graduate of UNL's Math in the Middle program.
  • Michelle Homp, the Principal Investigator of the SMI project, is a Research Assistant Professor at UNL in the Center for Science, Mathematics & Computer Education.
  • Nan Kissler, a third grade teacher for Scottsbluff Public Schools, who is an alum of UNL's Primarily Math program where she earned the K-3 Math Specialist Certificate through UNL's Primarily Math program and her MA degree from UNL in 2013
  • Stacie Lefler is a grades 7-8 mathematics teacher for Gordon-Rushville Public Schools and a 2006 graduate of Math in the Middle.
  • Nora Robinson, a kindergarten teacher for Kimball Public Schools, who earned the K-3 Math Specialist Certificate through UNL's Primarily Math program and her MA degree from UNL in 2014
  • Hortensia Soto-Johnson, Ph.D., of the University of Northern Colorado and is a graduate of Morrill High School
  • Kathy Vandamme, Professional Development Staff Developer at ESU 13 in Scottsbluff with a focus on supporting mathematics instruction in the Panhandle

Ask a Participant

The following teachers have indicated their willingness to be a resource to ESU13 teachers considering applying to SMI. If you have difficulty making contact with one of these outstanding teachers, please contact us at nebraskamath@unl.edu

How to Apply

The first round of applications for the 2016 SMI-Primary program will be reviewed December 7, 2015, and will receive priority access to travel support. The second round of applications are due February 29, 2016. Additional applications will be reviewed on a rotating basis until all positions are filled.

Contact Kathy Vandamme at kvandamme@esu13.org or UNL at nebraskamath@unl.edu with questions.

Apply Now